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The Search for Rei

At the heart of any bujutsu we will find rei. A responsible teacher should always find new ways to comunicate this to his students. If they do not develop rei in their training, then the true meaning of their studies (both the student and teacher) will be lost.

In my opinion, few teachers are teaching the principles of budo correctly. There appears to be a great deal of abusive power within the dojo. Rei in budo has become very artificial, resembling something from one mans perception of the old style Japanese hierachy. The true meaning of rei is rapidly being lost.

Bujutsu should lead to rei. the instructor ideally should behave in a way which will aid and guild his disciples to something higher. Rei is an expression of humility towards a higher existance. Those who fail to work to improve their spirit, as they do to improve their techniques, are likely to forget the proper humility of true rei. They are likely to become overconfident, proud and patronising. Spiritual development and technical development are entirely different things, but one should aspire to develop both together.

The nack, as I see it, is to gain a quality in your training whereby spiritual growth leads to technical growth and vice versa. Development then becomes more than merely a matter of technique. But training in this way you must never loose sight of the intent to 'correct and improve the spirit; even though you are simply practicing motion.

When training in this way, having more than one teacher may create problems. But insisting that students blindly follow one and only one teacher can result in developing cliquey groups, which prevents students of different teachers from being able to practice together. Now in the modern day this is a distasteful situation for the Japanese Martial Arts. The only solution, as I see it, is to wait for the spiritual growth of both the teacher and dsiciple, then students will be able to train under a single teacher and still benefit from interacting with students from other groups because their spirits can meet and rei will be common ground.

This is why an understanding of rei is so essential to the process of spiritual growth in bujutsu.

One of the best (and probably most profound) expressions of rei lies in the relationship between uchidachi (the one who receives the technique) and shidachi (the one who performs the technique). Unfortunatly, many teachers, agian, seem to misunderstand the subtulties of uchidachi and shidachi. They fail to pass on to their students the difference in intent inherrent in these two roles. This leaves far too much to the imagination of the budoka (a modern day Martial Artist) which creates something which it was never designed to be.